The government’s health watchdog has confirmed it will monitor air quality around a landfill site next month after concerns the “nauseating smell” is linked to respiratory problems.

The UK Health and Security Agency (UKHSA) says it will work with the Environment Agency (EA) to determine the risk of long-term health effects caused by Pilsworth South Landfill, which is no longer accepting waste.

Residents in Bury and Rochdale have complained about the odour from the site, which one resident described as “a cross between bad eggs and rotting veg". 

In a letter to Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, the UKSA said it believes the risk of long-term health impacts is low but added it "does not have data to definitely determine whether there could be a long-term risk to health".

It said: "We are aware of symptoms being reported by the community to directors of public health.

"These include reports of strong odours and transient health symptoms, such as eye and respiratory irritation."

The agency confirmed that air quality monitoring will take place in April using a mobile monitoring facility which will collect data used to produce an environmental public health risk assessment.

The mayor, who has met with officials from UKHSA and the EA regarding the issue, spoke at a meeting at the Greater Manchester Combined Authority last week where he called the situation “not acceptable in the slightest".

Bury Times: Pilsworth Landfill has stopped accepting new waste after complaints of nauseating odoursPilsworth Landfill has stopped accepting new waste after complaints of nauseating odours (Image: Public)

The mayor claimed there had been “breaches” at the site by the operator.

“We have escalated this issue to the top of both organisations,” Mr Burnham said.

“I hope that action is now been carried out at the right pace to remove this appalling nuisance for residents.”

Rochdale Council leader Neil Emmott called for the landfill’s operator, Valencia Waste, to have its license removed which were echoed by Cllr Eamonn O’Brien, the leader of Bury Council.

In its latest update to residents, posted to its Facebook page on March 20, Valencia Waste said new gas extraction wells had been put in place at the landfill as well as capping material.

A spokesperson for Valencia added: “While we carry out these works, there may be potential for temporary localised odour.

"Unfortunately, this is unavoidable as we complete this project that will provide the long term and sustainable solution for the site.

“We can assure you that we are working hard and dynamically around the challenges of the weather, to progress different aspects of the site engineering with significant resource to complete these works.

“As previously stated, the site will remain closed to waste inputs until this work is completed, however we will continue to accept restoration material used to cover and stabilise the capping material.

“We do apologise for any odour issues during the works, we remain focussed on completing these engineering works and resolving any odour issues.”